Monitoring and Evaluation of Higher Education Equity Initiatives
Expert Summary 01/2014 by Peter Wilkins and Jennifer de Vries
This summary aims to assist practitioners who are commissioning, planning or commencing evaluations of equity initiatives in higher education by identifying key issues for consideration and outlining key sources of guidance on the planning and implementing of evaluation.
BACKGROUND TO ISSUE
Australian universities are undertaking a wide range of Outreach, Access and Support initiatives to improve student equity and social inclusion within higher education. A growing need has been identified by practitioners who design and deliver equity initiatives, for improved evaluation approaches of these initiatives, to better understand what works well and why, across the sector.
Evaluation in general:
- Evaluation requires systematic, rigorous and objective approaches to answer specific questions about how well initiatives and strategies are working. Evaluation should be considered within the planning and development phase of equity initiatives. Its audience should be clearly defined to ensure it is:
– planned, and
– reported on appropriately.
- An essential starting point for an evaluation is clarity about the objectives of the initiative and the context in which it is being implemented.
- Evaluations can address performance at different levels in what is often described as a performance hierarchy or results chain which includes inputs (what is needed to do this), activities (what are you doing), outputs (what is the immediate response), outcomes (have planned objectives been met) and impacts (how will this affect what people do in the future) (see Figure 1). Deciding on which aspect or aspects to be evaluated is an important consideration when designing the questions to be answered.